NBA: Spirited Hornets, Magic look for success down the stretch

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While the Orlando Magic and Charlotte Hornets haven’t been overly successful, they sure tend to be feisty.

Now, they’ll face each other Sunday afternoon in Charlotte, N.C.

The Magic won 127-120 on Friday night at Minnesota in a game that was marred by a third-quarter brawl. Mo Bamba and Jalen Suggs of the Magic were among the players ejected.

Fortunately for Orlando, Cole Anthony came through with a big effort off the bench to help seal the victory against the Timberwolves. The guard had a team-high 20 points and also led the Magic with eight rebounds and six assists.

“Roller-coaster of a game,” Anthony said. “We stayed the course, stayed the unit and got a really good win.”

Energy has come from various sources when the Magic have been successful.

“For us, all season has been by committee regardless of roles,” Orlando’s Moritz Wagner said. “We try to figure it out together. We’re trying to find the rhythm of those different lineups.”

Orlando reserves racked up 72 points Friday night.

“Kind of enjoy the randomness, the unpredictability,” Wagner said of the player combinations often in use.

The Hornets have lost three in a row and five of their past seven. Charlotte looks too one-dimensional in certain stretches.

“Like any other team, you need a balance of offense,” coach Steve Clifford said. “You’re not going to win just running. The way we play now, you’re not going to win by just scoring in the half-court. You’ve got to have different ways to play. I think for us, scoring early in possessions is really great.”

The Hornets lost on back-to-back nights, falling at Chicago on Thursday and Detroit on Friday. Both games came with major frustrations.

Point guard LaMelo Ball was ejected because of a pair of technical fouls late in the Chicago game Thursday night. It marked his first career ejection.

Late turnovers were problematic for Charlotte in the 118-112 setback Friday night at Detroit.

“Five turnovers in one quarter, it’s going to be hard to win,” Clifford said. “We missed five free throws in a quarter. That’s going to be hard to overcome and we were 1-of-7 from 3.”

A 15-2 edge for the Hornets in fast-break scoring against the Pistons was offset by offensive malfunctions in other areas.

Hornets guard Terry Rozier has scored 20 or more points in five consecutive games.

In a late October game, Orlando picked up its first victory of the season after five losses by defeating the visiting Hornets 113-93. Charlotte won a rematch, 112-105 on Nov. 14 at Orlando.

In those two matchups, the Hornets didn’t have a player reach the 20-point mark. Gordon Hayward was the team’s top scorer in the first game and Mason Plumlee led the scoring in the second meeting. In each case, those players scored 18 points.

This marks the first visit of the season for the Magic to Charlotte. Clifford is a former Orlando head coach.

For Charlotte, Sunday’s game will be the only home appearance during a six-game stretch.

–Field Level Media

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